Death is an inevitable element of anime, and some deaths have had us in tears for a long time. If you are emotionally attached to the characters and care about their fate, these deaths can be particularly heartbreaking.
But it’s not just those well-known stories that leave us emotional, with many lesser-known tales tugging at our heartstrings too. We’ve compiled some of the saddest anime deaths around—including beloved characters from both once-off series and longer-standing fan-favourite titles.
The list we’ve put together reflects some of the most sorrowful losses in anime history. So if you’re looking for a good cry, here are the 28 saddest anime deaths for your list:
28. Asuma From Naruto
The loss of Asuma from the beloved anime Naruto is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in anime history. He was a loyal mentor, friend and father figure to the younger generation within the Hidden Leaf Village. His death sent ripples through all of his loved ones, who deeply mourned his passing.
His selfless act of sacrificing his own life in order to protect and save others further strengthens Asuma’s legacy as a remarkable individual deserving of great respect. Despite being haunted by the truth behind Nagato’s Pain, Asuma still clung to redeemability in his student’s hearts.
The posthumous symbolism that Asuma left behind adds another layer of sorrow whenever his name is mentioned, as it serves as a painful reminder that understanding people can have profound impacts on those around them, even after they pass away.
27.Byakuya Ishigami From Dr. Stone
One of the saddest anime deaths was that of Byakuya Ishigami, a young genius from the popular anime series “Dr Stone”. Byakuya’s untimely passing shocked many fans as his character had been portrayed as a symbol of hope in the story.
When Senku and his group are first searching for allies, they come across Byakuya, who reveals he’s been hiding for five years. His determination to use intelligence and create tools to survive on his own is incredibly inspiring. Despite being only fifteen years old, he proves to be an invaluable friend and ally in Senku’s ultimate mission.
After helping the group defeat their enemies, however, Byakuya perishes while rebooting the modern age. His exemplary courage will always be admired by fans who felt so much emotion when they lost such a brave character far too early in the story.
26. Bam From Tower of God
One of the most heartbreaking and memorable anime deaths happened in Tower of God, where Bam sacrificed himself to save his special someone, Rachel. This act of self-sacrifice demonstrated the lengths he was willing to go in order to protect those he loved.
As a result, his death rocked fans of the show and resonated deeply with viewers due to its emotionally packed content and the true embodiment of the power of love expressed in his final moments. His sad demise left many fans with tears streaming down their faces, as well as a sense of admiration for the way he handled such a tragic set of circumstances.
While it’s always painful to say goodbye to beloved characters, Bam’s ultimate act of bravery cements him as one heroic protagonist who will never be forgotten. The dignified manner in which Bam faced his end only serves as a further reminder that Tower Of God is one terrific anime series worth watching by new and old fans alike.
25. Menma From Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Menma was a young girl living with her close-knit group of friends; their bond was so strong that it remained even after her death, so when she appears one day as part of Jinta’s (the main character) hallucination everyone begins finding clues as to why she’s still here.
Throughout the series, viewers watch six childhood friends reunite, grow together and come to terms with Menma’s passing. One of the greatest strengths this anime offers is its eye-catching animation which adds to the narrative’s delivery.
Viewers can understand and be moved by each of the characters’ arcs due to its detailed illustration style, making it easier for viewers to sympathize with each character.
While watching, you can’t help but cry during Menma’s departure, feeling both angry towards Jinta for not allowing his feelings for her to be expressed in a unique way and, at the same time, grief-stricken over being able to relate with any past friendship sorrows we may have experienced entering our adulthood.
Altogether, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day tells us just how special a single person can be, and will forever remain remembered in our hearts as having one of the saddest anime deaths ever shown on television
24. Sir Nighteye From Boku no Hero Academia
The death of the hero-sidekick duo’s mentor, Sir Nighteye, in the popular anime Boku no Hero Academia, provided a stunning reminder of the fragility of life. His passing was especially devastating for Mirio Togata, who had trained under his tutelage and received his superhero name from him.
Knowing that he had only one minute left to live, Nighteye still bravely used his last moments to impart vital advice to Mirio. The heroic way in which he faced death demonstrated a sense of personal strength and nobility that is rarely seen in TV shows and anime episodes.
After Sir Nighteye’s loss, we will miss watching him solve mysteries with his incredible foresight and use humour as a tool to lighten the mood around him. The legacy he leaves behind as an awesome Pro Hero who recognized individuals’ ability to excel motivated us all to strive harder towards our goals even when battling insurmountable odds.
23. Ayumi Otosaka From Charlotte
Ayumi Otosaka from the anime series Charlotte was one of the most heartbreaking character deaths in recent memory. She selflessly gave her life to save her brother Yuu and protect everyone at Hoshinoumi Academy. Despite Ayumi’s tragic demise, she had a charming, cheerful personality that was as inspiring as it was infectious.
In particular, Ayumi displayed an admirable amount of bravery in her determination to save those around her, giving up even her own life in the process. Her death scene moved many viewers to tears due to its poignancy and emotionality, and it is, without a doubt, one of the saddest losses in anime history.
While she may be gone, her spirit lives on in the happiness she brought to those around her and served as an example of strength and courage that should not and will not be forgotten.
22. Leone From Akame ga Kill
Leone from the anime show Akame ga Kill is one of the most heartbreakingly sad anime deaths of all time. This loyal, supportive and fearless character had a dark past; after all, she was originally an assassin who took orders from her mysterious benefactor in order to help her save her young companions in poverty.
Her death was especially devastating because it involved Leone sacrificing herself for the sake of others by shielding them from peril. While this in itself was incredibly selfless and commendable, it also meant that Leone wouldn’t be able to remain with the group any longer and could no longer fight alongside them.
Leone’s brave action highlights the dark yet inspiring nature of anime which has captured the hearts of many viewers over the years — particularly those who remember seeing this touching and unforgettable moment unfold on screen.
21.Tahoumaru From Dororo
Tahoumaru, from the classic anime series Dororo, is remembered as one of the most heartbreaking deaths in anime. Despite his young age, this courageous and loyal warrior faced death head-on in an attempt to restore justice and peace.
In a dramatic act of selflessness, Tahoumaru courageously challenged Lord KagemitsuDaigo to save his family’s land. He knew that there was no chance for victory as he faced off with Daigo and his powerful weapon. Yet, despite the odds, he held onto hope and fought against all odds until his valiant death.
His unforgettable sacrifice serves as a reminder of friendship, loyalty and courage, even amidst the direst circumstances.
20. Shirou Fujimoto From Ao no Exorcist
Shirou Fujimoto, from Ao no Exorcist, stands as one of the most heartbreaking deaths in all of anime. His death came in such a tragedy felt betrayed by his son, Okumura Rin, and was unable to win against the force of Satan.
Once his figure and inspiration for the show’s protagonists, the death symbolized a mentality many have come to know: faith in yourself and your family must prevail.
Shirou was an encouraging priest who wanted only the best for his adopted sons and did everything within his power to bring them up as respectable people despite their inner turmoil as they balanced between demonic powers and self-control.
After putting all of his efforts into Rin’s ultimate safety, he even gave up his own exorcist soul to save him in that critical moment, only to be presented with the cruel irony of having Rin eventually discover it was a misunderstanding that caused him to make that intense decision that cost him his life.
All of these factors added together to bring us one indispensable lesson with this sad story: unconditional love is always worth it.
19. Neji Hyuga From Naruto Shippuden
The death of Neji Hyuga from Naruto Shippuden is perhaps one of the most tragic departures in anime history. Having been born a genius, Neji had neither the physical strength nor the raw power to protect himself against his enemies. He did, however, have incredible speed and agility.
Neji was one of the few people who could look into the future and understand how events were going to unfold around him. Unfortunately for him, this ability was not enough when faced with overwhelming numbers during the Fourth Shinobi War.
During its defence of Konoha, Neji sacrificed himself by taking an attack that was meant for Hinata – instead of trying to save himself, he chose to save her instead.
His selflessness was appreciated by fans across the world, and his death remains one of the saddest moments in the Naruto series – even though it left a profound feeling of loss among viewers, it also marked a point in which hope emerged for Naruto’s storyline where characters had learnt about love and courage through their trials.
18. Akira Fudou From Devilman Crybaby
The death of Akira Fudou in Devilman Crybaby is considered to be one of the sadder deaths in anime. As a popular protagonist, his loss was felt deeply by fans. He had gone through great trials and tribulations to protect his family and friends, essentially sacrificing himself in the end.
His tragic death showed the lengths one would go to show loyalty while also displaying that nothing could guarantee survival in a cruel world. His time on screen was limited, but it left a lasting effect on viewers who rooted for him throughout.
This emotional event resonates with many viewers today and has created conversations about what makes an anime’s death truly heartbreaking. Akira’s sacrifice reminds us that such moments touch us as we appreciate his courage and strength as well as mourn his passing.
17. Tomomi Masaoka From Psycho-Pass
The death of Tomomi Masaoka in the anime series Psycho-Pass is one of the most heartbreaking moments in anime history. As an Enforcer, he dedicated his life to protecting others and serving justice, despite being labelled a latent criminal due to his past decisions.
As a fan-favourite character, his loss was felt by the entire fan base and ultimately caused many fans to fall into depression. Sadly, Masaoka had no choice but to give up his life for the greater good so that those he cared about could survive and society could keep running.
Although his death is tragic, it serves as a reminder for us all to be like him— selfless and brave enough to put others before ourselves.
16. Meruem From Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter is an incredibly popular and emotionally riveting anime series that follows the story of Gon, a young boy on a quest to find his missing father.
Most people know this show for its characters, unique arc structure and interesting world-building, but one of the most memorable moments of the entire series is the death of Meruem, in one of the most heartbreakingly sad anime deaths ever.
Meruem – known as ‘The King’ among fans – was introduced during the Chimera Ant Arc, where he becomes a central figure in an important part of the plot. He eventually comes to understand kill or be killed nature which leads him to eventually accept his own fate and succumb to his destiny.
The entire event was highly emotional as viewers were presented with a compelling tragedy wherein they witnessed Meru em’s sudden transformation from a destructive creature into a sympathetic character.
It’s no surprise then that Meruem’s death still resonates with many today. It has not only become an infamous moment throughout the series but remains one of the saddest death scenes in all of anime.
15. Rintarou Okabe From Steins; Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu
The death of Rintarou Okabe from Steins; Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu is one of the saddest anime deaths of all time. From his iconic monologues to his daring plans, Okabe was a beloved character that won the hearts of viewers.
What made this particular death so much more heartbreaking is that it was ultimately avoidable as Okabe sacrificed himself to prevent World War III and save the lives of thousands.
Throughout the movie, we see him come close to achieving closure and finding redemption, but in one final, dramatic moment, he has to make a choice between suffering through a cycle of Pain or making the ultimate sacrifice.
His decision left many fans with tears in their eyes and will always be remembered as one of the most gut-wrenching anime deaths in history.
14. Ebisu From Noragami
Ebisu’s death in Noragami is certainly one of the saddest anime deaths out there. The gentle and selfless god who always put others before himself made a tremendous sacrifice for Yato and the rest of his friends by taking a fatal blow from Bishamonten meant for them.
His innocent and kind yet mischievous nature had won Yato’s trust and heart forever. Ebisu was a true friend, and his death was so heartbreaking that it seemed as though all hope had been lost. What made his death even more sorrowful was the fact that he had so much potential to use his power appreciably but left this world too soon.
Moreover, Ebisu’s final words were truly inspirational; he implored everyone to live with courage in spite of fear, an instruction we should all strive to remember when faced with adversities in life.
13. Askeladd From Vinland Saga
Askeladd from the renowned anime Vinland Saga has had one of the saddest and most heartbreaking deaths in anime history. Askeladd was a keen boss who achieved victory countless times, allying with or defeating any enemy who stood in his way.
Even though he was cruel and cunning and would resort to dirty tactics like bribing people, viewers still sympathized with him as he wasn’t driven by malice.
This empathy intensified when the truth behind his calm resolution to death was revealed – that it was Thors’s (his adoptive son) mercy killing of Askeladd due to a terminal illness that left him with an excruciating amount of physical Pain.
To make matters worse – tears start rolling down Askelad’s face when Thors knelt down beside him and drew his sword as a final gesture of compassion towards him prior to beheading him. It was such a sad sight that it gave everyone sorrow for several days after watching it.
12. Erwin Smith From Attack on Titan
Erwin Smith, who was the leader of the Survey Corps in the classic Attack on Titan anime series, is remembered for his inspiring words and unyielding spirit – as well as his heart-shattering death.
As his ultimate act to protect humanity from the Titans, Erwin sacrificed himself, allowing Eren to use a special weapon that turned him into a living bomb capable of destroying a great number of enemies. Erwin’s death was crushing because it came suddenly and without warning.
He had been sick with an illness, but he’d been steadily getting better and had just gotten back on his feet prior to this mission.
During his last moments, Erwin asked Levi to ensure his comrades could fight with all their strength and that they should never forget the oaths they swore in protecting humanity, no matter how insurmountable the odds were against them.
11. L From Death Note
The death of L in the wildly popular anime series Death Note is one that sticks with many viewers long after the show ends. Known for his extraordinarily keen deductive abilities and penchant for puzzles, L’s bold and independent spirit is legendary among Death Note fans.
His unexpected death comes as a shock to the viewer, cementing his place in many lists of memorable characters who left us too soon. In a heartbreaking end, L chooses to sacrifice himself in order to save his friends – an act of selflessness and love that demonstrates why he is such an inspirational character.
That said, it makes sense why L’s death in Death Note remains one such memorable moment for many fans; it showed a hero risking his own life for those he cares about and displays profound courage that left us undone.
10. Kamina From Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
No fan of anime will ever forget the heartbreaking death of Kamina from TengenToppaGurrenLagann. He was a passionate and courageous leader who inspired many people. His vibrant personality, fearlessness and charisma made him the focal point of the show, which makes his death all the more tragic.
The moment in which he dies while protecting his friends proves to be one of the saddest anime deaths in recent times. Knowing that his friends are safe and have something to fight for, he makes his last stand with no regret.
Kamina’s death still has an emotional impact on viewers today due to its powerful characterization and representation of how important it is to not give up on your dreams despite any obstacles you may face.
9. Jonathan Joestar From JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Jonathan Joestar’s death in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has been one of the saddest anime deaths in recent years, leaving an emotional mark on viewers. Jonathan was a strong but gentle soul whose courageous heart and unwavering devotion to justice made him one of the most loved characters in the series.
His ultimate sacrifice for his dearest friend, Erina Pendelton, exemplified his willingness to lay down his life for others and provided a powerful moment for viewers.
Although Jonathan was able to save his beloved Dio Brando from being cursed with a stone mask, the curse prevented them from ever meeting again and making any real closure, thus adding further sadness to this legendary scene.
8. Twelve and Nine From Zankyou no Terror
Zankyou No Terror has its share of tragic deaths, and many have left an indelible impression. Two characters, however, stand apart: Twelve and Nine. Prior to their untimely demise, the pair had formed an unbreakable bond as their shared struggle for justice brought them together.
The pair had developed such a strong friendship that Nine was willing to sacrifice himself, as he believed it was the only way to save Twelve after he was arrested. His act of selflessness proved his allegiance to his friend and also to his cause.
Twelve’s attempt to use explosives in order to free Nine resulted in him being fatally wounded by a police sniper when they both were forced into a corner on the roof of their secret hideout. Although their deaths were incredibly sad, they brought closure to the two friends who were inseparable until the very end of their lives.
On a final note, this moving anime death serves as a reminder that sometimes getting what you want means taking risks with unforeseen consequences and may require immense courage and strength — qualities which both Twelve and Nine embodied until their last breath.
7. Portgas D. Ace From One Piece
One of the most heartbreaking deaths in the anime world is that of Portgas D. Ace from One Piece. Known for his selfless actions and larger-than-life personality, Portgas D. Ace captivated audiences worldwide with his heroic deeds and loyal nature.
After being sentenced to death by Marine Headquarters, Ace puts himself through a noble act of sacrifice to protect Straw Hat Luffy as fire rages around him while Shanks declares a cease-fire between Marine and Whitebred Pirates. His legacy lives on in the hearts of fans who fondly remember him as the passionate yet benevolent character that he was.
As time passes, the influence of this beloved character continues to spread across generations and into cultures worldwide, reminding us all of what it means to be truly courageous and determined to do good even in our darkest hour.
It’s no surprise why Portgas D. Ace remains one of the most memorable characters in anime culture today, and he symbolizes pure loyalty and unyielding optimism—a reminder that we can always come out stronger from any tribulation if we hold true to how we want to live our lives.
6. Setsuko From Grave Of The Fireflies
The death of Setsuko in Grave of the Fireflies has been seared into the hearts and minds of many anime fans. Setsuko, a young girl struggling to survive with her even younger brother Seita during the hardest period of Japanese history, still manages to maintain a positive outlook on life despite all hardships she faces.
However, her untimely death due to starvation brings sadness to viewers everywhere and serves as a stark reminder of the powerlessness civilians experience during times of war. The fact that her death resulted from nothing but hunger is particularly soul-breaking.
Her passing serves as both a sombre beat in the story’s soundtrack and an eye-opening metaphor for how WWII affected those in Japan and elsewhere.
5. Maes Hughes From Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood
The passing of Maes Hughes from Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is one of the most heartbreaking deaths ever depicted in anime. When we first met Brigadier General Hughes, he was a pure-hearted family man dedicated to protecting those he loved.
Throughout the series, we were enchanted by his adorable relationships with his daughter and wife, his unshakeable integrity, and his dedication to justice. His death was a sudden jolt that shocked viewers throughout the world, leading to an outpouring of collective mourning.
For many fans, this was a bittersweet moment; while it hurts to lose Maes Hughes, there is no doubt that he made an impact on our emotions and memories as one of anime’s most daring heroes. His legacy will live on forever – even if it means saying goodbye too soon.
4. Koro-Sensei From Assassination Classroom
Koro-sensei, a beloved teacher from the popular anime Assassination Classroom, gave his life to protect his students.
As the homeroom teacher of a notoriously rowdy class of misfits at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, he accepted the biggest challenge in his existence: helping the students become respected and successful by instilling them with important beliefs and values.
He became deeply cared for by all his students and taught them that everyone has potential regardless of their shortfalls. In order to protect them from a devastating tentacle alien attack, Koro-sensei sacrificed himself and ended up dying as a glorifying martyr for his students.
His death was filled with sorrow but also happiness, knowing that each of his students had grown due to his presence. Koro-Sensei’s death is considered one of the saddest anime deaths featured in many titles like Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul and Demon Slayer.
3. Jiraiya From Naruto
Jiraiya is an easily recognizable character from the beloved anime series Naruto. His death was an especially tragic moment that viewers felt heavily. Jiraiya desperately fought against his foe, Pain, in order to protect Naruto and Kurama.
In a last-ditch effort, he used one of his greatest techniques, the Rasengan, causing large amounts of damage to Pain’s six bodies but ultimately giving him a fatal, fatal wound. Although Jiraiya died tragically, his presence lives on in Naruto’s life.
He was a wise teacher who taught Naruto invaluable lessons and helped him develop into the hero we know today. Despite his end, Jiraiya lived long enough to witness Naruto’s greatness and help shape it before his untimely demise.
The death of Jiraiya left many people brokenhearted and was considered one of the saddest anime deaths ever depicted in a series due to its brutal presentation.
2. Sohryu Asuka Langley From Neon Genesis Evangelion
The death of SohryuAsuka Langley, a beloved character from Neon Genesis Evangelion, is considered one of the most heartbreaking moments in anime. SohryuAsuka was a complex individual: she was strong physically, emotionally and mentally but also suffered from deep-seated insecurities.
Her fate after facing the ninth Angel was to be moved to an alternate world where only those with broken psyches could exist. In this world, she falls into a deep depression which leads her to eventually accept her own demise.
This event is so tragic partly because it marks the first time Sohryu starts to confront and overcome her trauma, only for it to be taken away from her so suddenly and traumatically.
Many fans see Sohryu’s death as an example of how life can bring us hardships no matter our best efforts, but also that in the face of despair, it’s possible to find even just a moment of peace.
This ultimate scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion still touches many people’s hearts today with its core message about resilience, grief and, ultimately, hope.
1. Lelouch Lamperouge From Code Geass
The death of LelouchLamperouge in Code Geass stands as one of the most tragic moments in anime history. After successfully uniting Japan and the rest of the world under his rule, Lelouch is assassinated by his former comrade Suzaku who, believing it to be a necessary evil, shoots Lelouch while pouring out his regrets and heartbreak.
In this defining moment which left fans shattered, we witness the ultimate act of self-sacrifice as Lelouch’s last act is to bring complete peace to a turbulent world. Through his death, he brings everlasting consequences with regard to characters and events throughout different facets of society.
One can’t help but feel the solemn silence that follows after Lelouch is mortally wounded and ultimately dies for causes greater than himself.
As revealed through 28 of the most tragic anime deaths, life is often fleeting and unpredictable. Characters who were beloved by viewers were taken away in some of the most grievous and heartbreaking scenes, with some deaths going on so far as to shape the entire narrative as a tragedy.
It’s these moments that resonate with viewers, such as ones where no one is left unaffected by the loss.
Not only do these deaths bring tears, but they also demonstrate that loss can ultimately trigger greater strength and resilience in characters still surviving— no matter how painful, death serves an essential role in the stories we tell, throwing light at problems facing humanity.
In the end, these souls made us laugh and cry, awe us with glorious life lessons, and haunt our memories forevermore.